Falls Creek Resort Management are planning to clear the Bogong High Plains Road over winter from Windy Corner to enable car access to the proposed redeveloped ANARE shed and new carpark.
The development impacts amenity for the XC skier community
It creates unacceptable levels of risk for all users of the mountain
It's not aligned with the Falls Creek's Strategic Masterplan
The main artery of our cross country (XC) ski trail network at Falls Creek will be lost, including the easily accessible beginner terrain, and the sheltered skiing and connections it offers.
There has been no planning and limited consultation on how courses for citizen races, FIS races and the Kangaroo Hoppet will be managed. Losing the Bogong High Plains Road means race loops and access loops will be fragmented.
Falls Creek XC will suffer reputational damage. International professional XC ski teams who regularly visit Falls Creek to train on its world class terrain will be discouraged - it will be world class no more!
Regardless of signage and fences sightseers will have even easier access to XC terrain. When people walk on exceptionally well groomed cross country ski trails the footprints destroy the grooming. Regardless of whether the development goes ahead, dedicated walking trails should be developed around Falls Creek.
Falls Creek Resort Management (FCRM) have parking issues that are yet to be effectively addressed. Environmentally friendly ways of transporting people to Falls Creek such as using mass transport (buses) should be explored before clearing the snow off the High Plains Road to the ANARE lakeside development site.
There will also be environmental impacts such as snow gums being removed, noise pollution and physical pollution from cars and people.
FCRM claim to proudly support the Protect Our Winters campaign, and these values should be reflected in the ANARE shed development.
Falls Creek Resort Management should be encouraging people to get on their XC skis or snowshoes to exercise and explore the winter wonderland that Falls Creek has to offer - not sit in a car to drive to a view and get a coffee. Other opportunities for good views and passive recreation already exist!
The XC ski network at Falls Creek showcases the sheer natural alpine beauty of the area. If the clearing of the road goes ahead, not only do we lose our inner trail network, we lose this sense of being in nature. A well known outdoor educator and cross country skier, Tony Pammer, says that many corporations and government departments simply don't seem to understand "sense of place" and "being in nature".
Clearing the road will mean we will lose forever the serenity, quietness, and flow of the inner trails where many find peace, awe and wellbeing. When you are skiing in the Nordic Bowl you will both see and hear buses, snow plows and cars (read visual and noise pollution).
Once you come over the rise at the Hoppet start you won't see an amazing natural spectacle, you will see a bitumen road right next to the trail and a large carpark.
Why should economics come before human wellbeing! We need to protect our winter wonderland for the next generation who will need a space to experience this beautiful, serene sport.
Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi sums up the situation perfectly...
"You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. They paved paradise to put up a parking lot."
The area is prone to high winds, drifting snow and poor visibility. In these conditions safety will be compromised.
There have been car accidents along Bogong High Plains Rd during summer - how will two-way traffic be safe in winter?
A road crossing to get to the Nordic Bowl introduces an unacceptable level of risk to skiers and the resort.
Aqueducts in the surrounding area including the Nordic Bowl will need to be risk assessed.
Safety issues arise from inexperienced visitors approaching Rocky Valley Dam, venturing onto the ice or tobogganing.
Poor consideration of how the FCRM will manage people accessing the new ANARE development via the road.
The Falls Creek Master Plan went through rigorous public consultation, was tabled in Parliament, is signed by the Minister for the Environment and is an incorporated document in the Alpine Resorts Planning Scheme. Winter activation of the Lakeside precinct is not part of the Master Plan.
What's the use of having a Master Plan if the resort does not follow it? When identifying developments on public land that have a profound effect on each user group (e.g. xc skiers) they should not be cooked up in a bureaucrat's office.
Any winter activation and road clearing to get to the Lakeside must go through an appropriate community consultation and be incorporated into a current Master Plan. This is consistent with the FCARMB Stakeholder Engagement Policy and is the very foundation of public land management in Victoria.
The enabling legislation sets aside Victoria's alpine resorts primarily for alpine recreation, in all seasons of the year, that is inclusive of people from varied cultural and economic backgrounds. The profit-driven commercial sector that underpins the accommodation and lifted ski field areas have manufactured an alpine skiing/boarding experience financially unattainable for most Victorians. XC skiing represents the only widely affordable skiing within the economic reach of most people and families. As such, XC skiing is at the very heart of equitable opportunities in our alpine areas.